NPC deputy calls to restrain overly expensive cemeteries
A Chinese lawmaker called for restrictions to skyrocketing prices of cemeteries across the country at this year’s two sessions, suggesting building more social welfare cemeteries with a medium cost of only 3,000 yuan ($461) per plot.
The regular commercial cemeteries in the Chinese market usually charge a high premium, making the funerary industry even more profitable than the overheated real estate, said Cui Jianmei, a deputy to the National People’s Congress. “That has made people in some areas to be ‘unable to afford a death,'” Cui told news site thepaper.cn on Tuesday.
To solve this problem, Cui suggested authorities to build social welfare cemeteries at wasted and abandoned land in suburban and rural areas, which are expected to gradually replace the current commercial cemeteries within two or three years.
Without the exaggerated sizes and extravagant decorations of some luxury commercial cemeteries, social welfare cemeteries will reduce land occupation and save money, Cui said, appealing to regional government budgets to cover this cost. “By building a cemetery of this kind, a plot would only cost some 3,000 yuan,” she added.
Cui’s suggestion raised public attention and was praised on social media on Wednesday, with some web users complaining about the unreasonably high prices of their local cemeteries.
“We Chinese people regard death as a very sacred and solemn matter,” one user wrote, and “it’s immoral that some businesses use it merely as a tool to make money.”
According to the price lists that several commercial cemeteries shared with the Global Times on Wednesday, a cemetery plot for a cremation urn for one person costs around 100,000 yuan in first-tier cities, and 10,000 yuan in fourth- and fifth-tier ones.
At Yongfu Garden, a cemetery in the suburban Fengxian district of Shanghai, the lowest price for a plot is 80,000 yuan. A middle standard Chinese style plot, which is among the cemetery’s most popular products, is 170,000 yuan, an employee of the cemetery surnamed Lu told the Global Times, and added that “the prices keep rising at about 10 percent a year.”
An employee surnamed Liao at Huaxia Garden, in the smaller city of Hengyang, in Central China’s Hunan Province, informed that its cheapest cemetery plot is 9,800 yuan. She added that larger plots with larger spaces and more decorations are definitely more expensive. “One with stone lions in the front is 29,800 yuan.” Liao told the Global Times.
Official statistics show that in Hengyang, average disposable income of local residents in 2019 was 28,222 yuan.
The monopoly by commercial cemeteries and the lack of government supervision partly caused the rapid growth in prices of cemetery plots in China, said Zhao Ping, deputy head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. The government no longer intervenes to set the prices of funeral related products since 2004, she added.
“The backward consumer habits of some relatives of the deceased is another reason behind,” Zhao said.
There are some that like to show off their wealth and affection for the deceased by buying a luxury cemetery plot, Zhao pointed out.